Tag Archive for: Kansas Professional Responsibility Defense Attorney

Three Tips for Successfully Navigating Professional Licensing Proceedings in Kansas

If your health care-related professional license is in jeopardy, professional licensing attorneys with experience and expertise in handling litigation against regulatory or licensing entities can provide the most effective way to safeguard your future.  The byzantine matrix of professional disciplinary proceedings requires intimate knowledge of the agency/board’s composition, steps and procedures in the administrative process, policies and rules adopted by the disciplinary board, and a familiarity with agency staff.  Kansas Professional Licensing Lawyer Danielle Sanger negotiates and litigates disciplinary proceedings before the full range of health care licensing boards and agencies, including but not limited to the following:

  • Kansas Board of Healing Arts: Physicians, chiropractors, physician’s assistants
  • Kansas Behavioral Sciences Regulatory Board: Mental health professionals
  • Kansas Nursing Board: Nurses

Given her experience representing medical professionals, Ms. Sanger has provided three tips about successfully navigating Kansas disciplinary proceedings involving health care professionals:

Seek Legal Representation Early: Many health care professionals like nurses and physicians wait until they are facing a formal disciplinary hearing to retain legal counsel.  Although the presence of a professional licensing litigation attorney at formal hearings is vital to protect your legal rights, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and present exculpatory evidence, defense of your professional license should begin much earlier.  The best strategy for protecting your license is to retain counsel during the pre-charge investigation phase of your case.  If Ms. Sanger is retained as soon as you are notified of an investigation into your conduct or practice, she may have the opportunity to intervene to protect your right to a thorough and fair investigation.  Early intervention can mean that allegations are dismissed as unsubstantiated without the commencement of formal disciplinary proceedings.  This approach also provides the advantage of permitting you to be an active and cooperative participant in the investigation without the risk of making an ill-advised disclosure.  This approach generally also results in a more cost-effective resolution than litigation of marginal charges.

Do Not Assume the Regulatory Board Cares about Your Rights: The entity or prosecutor that pursues a case against you at the hearing stage is not interested in your rights or the truth of the allegations.  If the case is set to be litigated at a formal hearing, the regulatory body will submit witness testimony, legal arguments, and documents designed to prove the charges.  If you are not represented by counsel, you will not have anyone to advocate on your behalf to ensure that the arguments and evidence considered is appropriate or to expose weaknesses in the case against you.  Admittedly, an unbiased hearing officer or panel will evaluate the evidence, but the decision will be based solely on the evidence presented.  The regulatory body or licensing entity has no incentive to worry about your rights or to ensure the hearing officer/panel sees your perspective.  Ms. Sanger challenges the regulatory board’s evidence and presents a strong case on behalf of her clients.

Take Advantage of the Attorney-Client Privilege: A common mistake made by professionals involves failing to exercise candor with their attorney.  Although certain facts might be embarrassing or damaging, the attorney-client privilege protects you from having past mistakes or misconduct disclosed by your attorney without your consent subject to narrow exceptions.  If you are honest with your attorney, you put your attorney in a better position to mitigate the impact of damaging facts.

If you are a healthcare professional who has been informed that you are the subject of a disciplinary investigation or charges, Kansas Professional Licensing Defense Attorney Danielle Sanger represents physicians, psychiatrists, doctors, nurses and others in the medical field in Missouri or Kansas, so call us today for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.



Unforeseen Consequences of Professional Discipline: Denial of Disability Benefits

If you are in danger of losing your professional license to practice law, medicine, nursing, accounting or another occupation, it is reasonable to assume that you are concerned about the financial impact on your future.  If you are a young professional, you might have tens of thousands or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in education-related loans hanging over your head.  Established professionals will find it virtually impossible to maintain their standard of living without their occupational license.

In this context, many professionals wonder if their loss of a professional license constitutes a basis for pursuing a disability claim to bridge the income gap.  In many cases, inability to engage in your profession will not justify long-term disability benefits with a private insurance carrier.  This blog post compares several scenarios in terms of the impact of disciplinary proceedings that result in revocation of a professional license on the ability to pursue a long-term disability claim.  Generally speaking, long-term disability coverage from a private insurer does not cover legal disability stemming from revocation of a professional license.  However, this blog addresses broad trends, so the law in a specific jurisdiction can differ significantly.  This discussion also does not address unique nuances that can impact your situation, so this blog should not be considered nor is it intended as legal advice.

When Loss of a Professional License Causes a Physical or Mental Disability

If an individual devotes a significant portion of his or her life to becoming a physician, lawyer, nurse, or other professional, the sudden inability to engage in that occupation can result in severe emotional and psychological symptoms.  However, courts generally do not find that long-term disability benefits are appropriate when a professional suffers depression or other diagnosable mental illnesses or disorders as a consequence of the stress and anxiety of losing a professional license.

Medical Disabilities Unconnected to Professional Discipline

When an individual suffers both a medical disability and a legal disability resulting from loss of a professional license, the order of events often has a significant impact on whether a court will require a private insurer to pay long-term disability benefits.  If the medical condition, injury, or illness that causes disability precedes suspension of the right to the engage in a profession, courts have typically upheld the right of a claimant to disability benefits.  Courts that have taken this position generally have not been influenced by whether the alleged misconduct occurred prior to suffering the disabling medical or psychiatric condition.  There is an exception to this general timing rule.  This general approach only applies if the disabling condition is not related to the cause of the legal disability.

Practicing Successfully with Disabling Condition Prior to Revocation of Occupational License

Many people who suffer from serious mental health issues or addictions manage to function successfully and develop an accomplished career despite their disability for a reasonably lengthy period.  Generally, courts have split in this situation.  Some courts consider the ability of the professional to engage in his or her profession as evidence that the mental disorder did not cause the loss of the license to engage in the occupation.  Under this reasoning, courts rule that the mental health condition is not disabling since the individual engaged in the profession effectively for years.  Other courts have taken a contrary view and found that the mental illness or addiction was disabling because it eventually derailed the career of the professional.

The relationship between revocation of a professional license and the right to claim disability benefits is just one example of the sometimes unforeseen consequences of professional discipline.  We understand the potentially devastating impact of losing your right to engage in your chosen occupation and work diligently to help our clients minimize the impact of disciplinary proceedings.  If you are facing potential discipline, Kansas Professional Responsibility Defense Attorney Danielle Sanger represents professionals facing disciplinary proceedings in Missouri or Kansas, so call us today for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.

Three Reasons Attorneys Should Never Be Self-Represented in Disciplinary Proceedings

Any lawyer who has been practicing law for a reasonable number of years has advised clients not to face legal issues, including administrative hearings, without an experienced attorney.  Ironically, many knowledgeable and experienced lawyers make this very mistake when facing allegations of misconduct filed by a client or other state bar disciplinary proceedings.  If you have undertaken the sweat and tears of law school, the bar exam, and building a law practice, the value of your license to practice law in Kansas or Missouri is invaluable.

The decision to hire an attorney that focuses a substantial portion of her practice on professional disciplinary matters can mean the difference between keeping your career on track and disbarment. Professional licensing attorney Danielle R. Sanger represents clients throughout Kansas and Missouri in proceedings involving alleged ethical improprieties and other misconduct against professionals like attorneys, accountants, dentist, physicians, nurses, pharmacists, chiropractor, optometrist and many others.  The information below provides reasons that a lawyer facing charges brought by the office of the Missouri Chief Disciplinary Counsel should retain experienced legal counsel.

Low Evidentiary Burden:  Although the consequences of the Supreme Court of Missouri’s disciplinary system clearly have a punitive impact, the Office of Chief Disciplinary Counsel that pursues such cases is subject to a less than taxing burden of proof.  The prosecutor only needs to establish violations under the preponderance of the evidence standard.  This low evidentiary burden makes it essential to be represented by someone with experience dealing with the prosecutors and state bar disciplinary actions.

Ability to Avoid Formal Charges: Many attorneys who are the subject of a client complaint are able to avoid formal discipline or public discipline because of the effective negotiation efforts of their administrative law attorney.  Ms. Sanger evaluates the facts, charges, complaint, and evidence to assess the probability of avoiding formal discipline or obtaining diversion.  Diversion options might include admonitions, fee dispute resolutions, and/or substance abuse intervention.

Impact on Professional Reputation: Even if you do not receive a suspension during which you cannot practice law or a disbarment, any form of public discipline will impact your professional reputation.  Public discipline is readily available to potential clients, opposing counsel, employers, and judges, so aggressive representation might allow you to avoid significant negative impact to your career.  A public reprimand or suspension (with or without probation) is easily discovered, so a decision to take a chance without legal representation might turn out to be an extremely costly gamble.

Navigating the Disciplinary Hearing Process: If sufficient evidence exists that a serious violation has occurred, an information will be filed, which will set forth the charges brought by the Chief Disciplinary Counsel (or a Regional Disciplinary Committee).  The complainant (usually a disgruntled client) has thirty days to request an Advisory Committee review.  While no attorney wants to receive correspondence regarding allegations of a violation of professional responsibility rules, any correspondence must be opened promptly because default can be taken thirty days after notice is provided of the information.

The Disciplinary Hearing Panel is made up of two attorneys and a non-attorney.  The matter is handled through an evidentiary hearing where both the prosecutor and attorney facing charges can present documentary evidence and introduce witness testimony.  Typically, the complainant will be asked to testify under oath.  The panel will determine if a violation has occurred and take one of the following steps:

  • Dismiss the case based on lack of evidence to support the charges
  • Issue a written admonition which becomes part of an attorney’s public record
  • Reprimand
  • Suspension (with or without probation)
  • Disbarment

The administrative decision can be appealed by either party to the Supreme Court of Missouri.  This appeal will typically involve the submission of written briefs and oral argument.  Although attorneys subject to charges can agree on a disposition of the matter with the Office of the Disciplinary Counsel, this should never be viewed as a final disposition.  The Supreme Court of Missouri reviews any recommendation of the Disciplinary Hearing Panel before the orders become final.

The bottom line is that retaining an experienced attorney to represent you when you are facing allegations of ethical violations can prevent your career from being derailed.  If you are facing a complaint, Kansas Professional Responsibility Defense Attorney Danielle Sanger represents attorneys in Missouri or Kansas, so call us today for a free consultation at 785-979-4353.